To our community: As Jews, we embrace politics because our parents and our grandparents taught us about the tragedies that can occur if we stay silent.
Some of us are liberal. Some of us are conservative. Many of us are moderate. As Americans, we respect one another’s right to differ, to argue, to participate in the political process with the passion and intelligence that G-d has given us. This is part of our tradition as a people, and we are proud of it.
But we know, too, that there are limits. This week, a member of our community has gone too far.
Bruce Ash submitted a letter to a Christian blog, doug martin.goodnewscommunications.com, attacking our Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and questioning her Judaism and her support for Israel. His letter is full of insults and lies.
Mr. Ash does not agree with her on the issues and has every right to express his opinion, but to question her Judaism by writing that “she claims to be a Jewess” is wrong.
Anyone with an internet connection can see for themselves that Giffords’ record shows tremendous support for Israel. Mr. Ash’s claims otherwise are absurd. Her actions in support of Israel include opposition to the sale of munition technology to Saudi Arabia, condemnation of the Goldstone Report and co-sponsorship of the Iran Sanctions Act. Our Congresswoman was selected as a member of the Bi-partisan Iran Sanctions Implementation Work Group. She is a national board member of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council. The first of her bills to become the law of our land was the Stop Arming Iran Act. This is a strong record on Israel; it does not deserve to be attacked from within our community.
On other issues, Mr. Ash has got his facts wrong. Congresswoman Giffords did not vote for the government bailout of GM and Chrysler, as Mr. Ash falsely states. Nor did she support the federal lawsuit against the state of Arizona, which Mr. Ash also falsely claims.
It is also worth remembering that Gabrielle Giffords grew up here in Tucson in a family that has been active in our community for decades. Her grandmother, Ruth Giffords, was a former president of Hadassah. Her grandfather, ‘Gif’ Giffords, was a founder of our B’nai B’rith. Her father Spencer celebrated his Bar Mitzvah at Tucson’s historic Temple Emanu-El, which is now home to our Jewish History Museum. Congresswoman Giffords is a member of Congregation Chaverim. To question her Judaism is an insult to us all.
In our community, we do not lie in order to influence an election. We do not intentionally stir up hatred. We do not measure or judge the faith of other members of our community. And we should not question our Congresswoman’s rock-solid commitment to Israel.
Bruce Ash does not speak for our community and he owes us all an apology.
— Rabbi Stephanie Aaron, Barry Baker, Geoff Balon, Stanley Feldman, Nanci and Doug Levy,
Tamir Nicholson, Ron Ober, Esther and Abe Orlick, Donald Pitt, Susan Warmack, Tom Warne